Guest Post: Author Vivienne Brereton's Favourite Character to Write @VivienneBreret1 @LoveBooksGroup


“If I have anything to do with it, we Howards will live forever.” 

Thomas Howard Charismatic head of one of the most powerful Houses in Tudor England. An indomitable old man approaching eighty: soldier, courtier, politician, a ‘phoenix’ rising from the ashes. After a calamitous period of disgrace, the Howards, renowned for their good looks and charm, are once more riding high at the court of Henry VIII. Set against the backdrop of the extraordinary 1520 ‘Field of Cloth of Gold’, it is a tale of ambition, love, and intrigue, with Thomas at the centre of this intricate tapestryWill Thomas’s bold vow be fulfilled? Danger stalks the corridors of the royal courts of Europe. Uneasy lies the head beneath a crown. Every other ruler - a fickle bedfellow…or sworn enemy. The action takes place in England, Scotland, and France. On either side of the Narrow Sea, four young lives are interwoven, partly unaware of each other, and certainly oblivious to what Dame Fortune has in store for them. 

“Nicolas de La Barre laid his lute to one side, hardly bothering to stifle a yawn of boredom. Nevertheless, he couldn’t escape the fact he’d agreed to take on a new wife….” 

Explosive family secrets are concealed behind the ancient walls of castles in three lands. But… “There are no secrets that time does not reveal.” 

Guest Post:


 It has to be Nicolas de La Barre, a French noble, adored by all the women. and envied by all the men. In the opening chapters of ‘A Phoenix Rising’, Book One of ‘The House of the Red Duke’, he’s riding high at the French Court. Here he is in conversation with Guillaume Gouffier, Seigneur de Bonnivet, Admiral of France….

  “Sprawled in a chair opposite, the King’s Master Falconer merely raised an eyebrow and distractedly fingered a golden locket, encrusted with jewels, around his neck. At his feet lay two enormous grey Irish Wolfhounds, in deceptively peaceful slumber: fitting sentries for such a master. Guillaume steeled himself, knowing Nicolas, who besides being the only man François would trust with his precious birds, was also the Lieutenant of Picardy. He was also Master of the Hunt in all but name, carrying out most of the duties on behalf of the ageing occupant of the prestigious post who’d been one of old King Louis’ most trusted men. Even if Guillaume hated to admit it, Nicolas’s success in acquiring these posts was entirely due to his own merits.
    He was known as a collector of both beautiful art and beautiful women. Guillaume could see why he’d have no problem attracting the latter, particularly in that tight-fitting doublet of scarlet and black, over a white shirt of finest Holland cloth, with billowing sleeves. Goodness knows how many ells it had taken to make the shirt. Always dressed impeccably in the latest of fashions, Nicolas certainly looked the part of the perfect courtier.

     He was a man who danced to his own tune - with enviable success. With his intense dark looks, and eyes the exact shade of the Moorish dates on display upon the silver spice plate across the room, not really brown at all but black, Nicolas pleased the ladies of the court. These same eyes presently had permanent amusement in their depths - at Guillaume’s own expense - he was sure of it. Heaven help the little virgin being offered up by the English as a sacrifice. The Governor of Picardy’s second-in-command, although unusually cultured, was first and foremost, a man of war, as far removed as possible from their own equally courageous warrior king who had the heart of a poet.”

  Finally, after all countless novels of falling for the ‘tall dark handsome hero’, such as Mr Darcy, Rhett Butler, and a thousand more, I had my very own to write about. And what fun it was! Having read an exhaustive list of ‘how to write characters’, I knew you shouldn’t make your characters too good or too bad, as there are several shades in between. And by the end of the novel, they need to have changed.

  Showing Nicolas’s character and behaviour proved no problem as in ‘A Phoenix Rising’, there is a time shift. The novel opens with the Prologue in 1497, then skips forward twenty-three years to 1520 for Part One, and then back again to 1497, from where it follows a straight line thereafter. The above extract is from Part One where we see Nicolas as a sophisticated young man of 29, at the height of his prowess and powers of attraction. For an eye-watering price, he is deciding whether to agree to an arranged marriage (suggested by Thomas Boleyn, and agreed to by Henry VIII of England and François I of France) with an Englishwoman he’s never met and who knows nothing of the proposal. We learn that Nicolas has been married before - and guess his heart has never been touched. Once again, here he is in conversation with the Admiral of France….

 “It grated on Guillaume’s nerves that Nicolas was showing more interest in the qualling piece of jewellery than in the brilliant marriage being offered to him on a plate. At length, the reluctant bridegroom found his voice.

   ‘I was wondering what my proposed fiancée thinks of your plan.’

    Again, there was that combination of mirth and insolence in the dark eyes. The merest upturn of the wide mouth served to deepen the cleft of his chin while the hint of dark facial hair only added to the decidedly feral quality of the man. At a complete loss, and feeling as though he was sinking up to his waist in quicksand - his royal undertaking doomed to failure - Guillaume threw up his hands in a gesture of despair.

    ‘As far as I know, her family has decided not to tell her…yet. It seems her parents needed a great deal of persuading. Particularly the father.’

    ‘What with? A trunkful of gold coins. You make it sound as though the man wasn’t easily bought. But he agreed, nonetheless, to sacrifice his daughter on the altar of his ambition. Forgive me, but quite when is “the bride” going to find out? When I creep into her bed at night. And inform her I’m her new husband.”

 In Part Three, we step back in time and find a thirteen-year-old Nicolas and start to understand why he becomes the man we met earlier….

  “On the way to the Montmorency estate from their home this morning, they’d stopped at the cathedral in Senlis so his devout mother could pray.

  “You should do so as well, Nicolas,” she’d said, tight-lipped. “I’ve never known a boy more in need of prayer. Perhaps Anne de Montmorency will be able to show you how to behave better. He will be a great lord one day. And make his father proud of him.” The words “unlike you” hung in the air like the stench of rotting meat.

    His mother’s cruel words were akin to water being shaken from the back of one of the ducks on the river that flowed through their estate. Nicolas had heard them so many times before: how his one mission in life was to be a dutiful son to his father, to carry on the La Barre dynasty in a way agreeable to his parents. Trying to understand why they both treated him as they did, Nicolas often wondered whether it was because they’d both been so old when they had him.”

  As a writer, your biggest hope is that you’ve written a character who will give as much pleasure to the readers as writing about them gave you you. I can only hope I’ve done Nicolas proud.

Follow on Bloglovin
Follow on Bloglovin

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to read/comment on my page!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...